Reflecting on gravestones


A gravestone isn’t something I ever gave much thought to, it’s something I thought was distant and in the future, but events last year changed that.

That first year after Daniel passed it just didn’t fall into place for me to order a headstone. I knew most people have it ready to set at the one-year mark, but for me it just didn’t seem to click.

This summer I dug out the tombstone advertisement paper my dad had picked up for me in Robinson. Moments later, I was studying the paper in my hand. I knew the time was getting closer and it would be good for me to face it. With a prayer in my heart, I contemplated on the wording, design, and all.

Part of my being wanted to say, “Isn’t a stone so earthly?” It is where we laid his body, yet surely he is much more alive in heaven than he was on earth, as we are reminded in 2 Corinthians 5:8 where it says, “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

Even for the sake of the children I knew in my heart we need to keep moving forward in this stage of life.

“I’ll have all your names printed on the back of the stone,” I explained to the children, “That is what daddy would want. You were all very important to him.” The idea was pleasing to them.

Then of course a tree would have to be incorporated somewhere. Not only was Daniel preparing to plant new trees when he got hurt; only 13 hours earlier, he shared a devotional at a hymn singing about those trusting in the Lord will be as a tree planted by waters and won’t wilt in year of drought. The next part is especially close to my heart. The individual who trusts God and asks for the Holy Spirit will watered by the Spirit himself and will never stop yielding fruit. Those verses in Jeremiah 17:7 and 8 which he expounded still echo through my mind and spur me on to keep trusting and asking for His Spirit.

Now I look at the gravestone pictures before me once more, perhaps I should place those verses under the children’s names, signifying this promise for their hearts day by day, year in and year out?

Preparing and setting the tombstone is not what I ever dreamed of doing for my husband. Still I am most thankful for that opportunity to show love to our dear daddy and husband, and especially to be reminded that God remains God and His ways always work, no matter how hard we cry. Like a dear widow friend shared with me recently, “If we do not thank God for taking our husband we are saying we know better than he does.” I had never thought about it that way, yet in my heart when she said that, I knew the absolute joy and freedom of not only giving a burden to God, but also thanking him for it even when it feels unreasonable to do so. It opens the wellspring of blessings to be spilled right upon you.

Gateways of connection with God are opened at that simple act of trust by thanking God.

I admit, I get super tested with thanking God for all His ways. Little Joshua is processing deeper levels of missing his daddy. It’s heart renting to hear his sobs, knowing that I can never be both mom and dad for him.

Snuggling with Daniel’s night shirts have a way of soothing and calming him. I use it to wipe his tears- we know Daddy would care so much! Knowing he needs extra love I told him he could sleep with me for a few weeks. Last night he snuggled up close to me and said, “Here mom, you may take this side of Daddy’s shirt!”

Okay, last but not least I’ll give you a Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe I made in the first year of our marriage. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

1 pkg cake mix

1/2 c butter

3 pkg (8oz) cream cheese

1 (14 0z) can condensed milk

2 cups pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 tablespoon cinnamon

8 oz whipped topping

1 small pkg sliced almonds (opt)

Combine cake mix and butter. Press into the bottom of a 10 inch spring form pan. Combine next 5 ingredients:mix well. Pour over crust. Bake at 375 for 65-70 minutes or until set. Cool. Remove from pan. Spread whipped topping on top. Garnish with sliced almonds.

Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.

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